December 22, 2014 Transatlantic – Kaleidoscope (Album Review)
Supergroup Transatlantic has been one of Progressive Rock’s most adored over the course of the last decade. Originally formed back in 1999, the band dissolved in 2002 only to reform to fans delight seven years later with their comeback album The Whirlwind. Consisting of Ex-Spock’s Beard Neal Morse (keyboard/acoustic guitars/vocals), The Flower Kings’ Roine Stolt (electric guitars/vocals/percussion/additional keyboard), Marillion’s Pete Trewavas (bass guitar/vocals), and ex-Dream Theater’s Mike Portnoy (drums/vocals), the band is dripping with talent. Now in 2014, they return with their first new album in five years with Kaleidoscope. Clocking in at over seventy-five minutes long, the record is self-produced by Transatlantic and released via Inside Out Music.
Opening with “Into the Blue,” the album begins with a cosmic but calming dream-like symphony played by a cello, which transitions into Morse’s conventional rush of Progressive style led by his funky mellotron. Then enters Trewavas, who comes in with a classically tuned, mysterious, bass riff. Portnoy’s drumming is of course mind-blowing, as usual, with fills that still leave Prog-rock lovers awed every time they hear him. Right as the tune takes a tempo change into a really groovy Classic Rock sound, our ears are really tested out. First with Stolt’s sheering leads, as he and Morse trade the spotlight with keyboards. Immediately this shows listeners that this album just is not one that should be viewed musically alone, but as a journey through a new world of symphonies. Sectioned and over twenty five minutes running time, the song is filled with emotional heart-racing solos beyond words.
“Shine” is a lovely heartfelt number written by Morse with a combination of what sounds like a guitar/sitar piece. Morse starts the audience off on lead vocal and it is almost a little flash back or a soft continuation of 2000’s “We All Need Some Light.” A delicate drumbeat rolls in and Stolt taking over the vocals with the composition going to another level. Morse returns on the chorus, leading to a gorgeous Gilmore-esque guitar style, which transforms as Portnoy joins in on a solo vocal part performing some Floyd-type cosmic tones before a signature Stolt guitar solo. As the solo ends on a high note, Morse brings it back down, returning to the start with guitar and piano duo, harmonizing vocals backing him. It all winds down with the return of the sitar sounding guitar, bringing the song to a wonderfully angelic close.
Next, “Black As The Sky” is a more compact epic track, which is just under seven minutes. Capturing some of their heavier side of the band, the song proves to be triumphal in its capacity, featuring some blistering organ lending to a bit of a darker side. Portnoy’s technical rolls and fills find him reaching leaps and bounds beyond his potential more than he ever has.
This is just a glimpse into the magnificent musical experience of Kaleidoscope. The album is the summary of who Transatlantic are, as much as a forward-looking release that convey new elements of the capabilities this band can deliver. The epics tracks each feature at least one riff that is completely mind blowing with a groove and heaviness that is just surmountable. It is not to say Transatlantic is about to turn into a Metal band, but it shows that they are stretching the boundaries of what we can expect from them. Be sure to pick up the special edition of the album for an amazing bonus disc of forty minutes of music featuring covers of Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and The Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin” among many others. While speculations of another hiatus have been talked about amongst followers, hopefully the scene has not heard the last of Transatlantic. CrypticRock gives Kaleidoscope 5 out of 5 stars.